B2B has always been considered a rational industry. In B2C, a consumer can impulsively buy a new brand of cookies, and if they don’t like them, they just throw the box out and get a different one. B2B is the complete opposite. Jobs are at risk, and companies are affected when purchasing decisions go wrong.
Your kids aren’t going to fire you if you buy the wrong chocolate pudding. But the company president isn’t going to be too happy if the company spends $200,000 on new equipment that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. That’s not fun for anyone.
In the past, B2B buyers have only been concerned with two things when purchasing:
- Does it work?
- What does it cost?
In 2017, however, information accessibility and globalization are at their peaks. Consequently, buying habits have started to change. Any company across the globe could potentially supply your customers just as well, if not better, than you can.
So, what is setting companies apart? The differentiator is their level of B2B marketing. We have entered an age of feeling in the B2B industry. Now, more than ever, B2B buying decisions are being based on the attitudes and feelings evoked from a company’s brand identity.
Is B2B Becoming B2C?
Not exactly, but the days of simply mailing someone a spec sheet and a price have come and gone. Technology advancement has allowed an abundance of smaller companies to produce comparable products and quickly gain ground on industry leaders.
With substitutable products at their disposal, these smaller companies are using B2B marketing to set them apart. They use marketing to create feelings and resonate with customers, which gives them a considerable competitive advantage — a theory prominent in B2C that still holds true in B2B.
When looking at basketball sneakers, you buy the ones with the swoosh on them. Why? Because their marketing convinced you that they make you play like Michael Jordan (well, it worked on me). But they aren’t magic shoes. You can’t whisper “make me like Mike” when you’re lacing them up. And despite the fact that every competitor is selling practically the same shoe, you buy Nike because of the image and the feeling they give you.
Similarly, let’s say you are deciding between two business software platforms. They offer comparable services and their prices are similar. Your boss has decided to let you make the call and is really counting on you. This decision, if you get it right, could significantly help the company.
How do you decide? Do you choose the software with the better online reviews? Do you go with the more recognizable brand? Or, maybe you choose the platform with the tagline, “the best return on investment for your business.” That company owns that mind space, and it can create the difference.
B2B Isn’t Boring.
So, why should your website be? Your content? Your advertising? Just because the B2B industry has a strictly business attitude doesn’t mean your B2B marketing should be plain or ordinary. Buyers still want to be wowed.
Show your prospects that you put in the effort and that you care about their business. Create compelling content and memorable advertising — the return on investment will be greater than you think. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, marketing acts as an external influence that appeals to potential buyers.
You might be thinking, “Business is all about making money. Obviously, I’m going to choose the lowest priced product that gets the job done. That’s it. I don’t care about the feeling.” But businesses aren’t made up of robots. It’s people who make purchasing decisions, and just getting the job done may not be enough. Decision makers will choose machinery or software that will help their company do good work — making price an afterthought.
That’s what B2B marketing does. It generates emotions associated with a brand identity and gives your company a competitive advantage. Welcome to the age of feeling.
All marketing tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating all tactics, the programs become more effective and cost efficient. An Integrated marketing communication plan helps you meet real business objectives – generate leads, grow revenues, gain market share, and become the leading brand.
Mitch Mathern is a public relations executive at Schubert b2b. Mitch graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Marketing. When not at the office, Mitch enjoys spending time at the beach with his surfboard, or binging on the latest season of Vampire Diaries.